the official website of
Bob Nailor




Marketing Your Book

I released a book to mild fanfare and miserable sales. Why? What did I do wrong?

It seemed I had done my preparatory work. I was on blogs. I wrote my own blog. I tweeted my heart out and announced it with great fervor on Facebook, LinkedIn, GoodReads and other websites. What had I done wrong?

I sold a few books, got a couple of reviews and then? Nothing! The book has sit at Amazon and the positioning has continued to drop into obscurity.

Where did I fail?

It's called Marketing 101. Know your audience.

Ah-ha!!

I write science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Therefore, it would make sense anyone who enjoys those genres would pick up my books and read them. WRONG!!

Look at it from another perspective. Be a toy maker. You create toys and expect the children to ante up cash for your wares. Your mindset? Toys + children = sales. But wait, those teenagers aren't looking at the cool tricycles you made. In fact, neither are the pre-teens.

Tricycles are for children who are aged between 4 and 7. At about 7 they begin to want a bicycle - the two-wheelers. But wait, not all is well. Girls don't want that bar since it scrunches up their dresses. Boys on the other hand have no issue with kicking a leg over the seat to get on the bike. Your demographics are changing as you watch. If you build a bicycle with the bar extended in front of the seat, only boys (or Tom-boys) will want to ride it. Suddenly your tricycle is limited to a younger set and the bicycle, as designed, only appeals to boys from ages 7 to 9. Then they want more speed, different speeds (3 speed, 10 speed, even more) so that age group is about 10 to 15. At sixteen they want a car.

Any good salesman will tell you - You need to know your audience to be able to sell. Sure, a great salesman will sell an ice machine to an Eskimo, but... well, you're an author, not a salesman.

I co-authored a novel about vampires in South America. Vampires equal horror. So we marketed the book as horror. But... In reality, the story is more action-thriller. Yes, there are vampires and there are horror aspects but it is NOT Dracula by any means. As one person said: It is more like Clive Cussler's Dirk Pitt meets Da Vinci Code meets Dracula.

That means we were missing our target audience, sort of like flying from New York City to Los Angeles and landing in Cleveland, OH. Definitely short of the destination but at least headed in the right direction.

Therefore, in any effort to market yourself, first and foremost, make sure you know your demographics - know your audience. Who are your readers? You might get a couple of people who enjoy horror books to read your pseudo-horror vampire novel, but the book will linger. And well, it does.

So, as you move forward to release your next novel, step back and evaluate your reading audience. Really analyze your book and who you think the real readers will be. Then attack. Remember, you will either be General Custer or Sitting Bull - the decision of the outcome is your knowledge and tactics. General Custer had rifles and a troop of relative marksmen. Sitting Bull knew the land, his people and had more Indians than Custer guessed.




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~ COMMENTS ~

Elyse Salpeter
2013-12-30
I always wonder about this. Who exactly am I writing for? I have a fantasy series and I thought it was not YA yet everyone who read it told me it was. I realized I was marketing it incorrectly - great post Bob. Something to think about.
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Rebekah Lyn
2013-12-30
Defining your audience is definitely hard for me because I personally read a pretty broad range of books.
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Bob
2013-12-30
@Elyse: To know your audience, you first must know your book. Even for me, that is a hard call.
@Rebekah: Since you read so many types of books, you are a perfect audience. It is those die-hard types who only want fantasy, but the elves must be only 3 ft tall and have wings - oh, and speak in riddles. That type of audience is a difficult to reach.
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Onisha Ellis
2013-12-30
Surely there is a service out there somewhere that could help one figure this out, I am an absolute failure at reading analytic reports. Please, somebody dumb it down for me
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Bob
2013-12-30
@Onisha: I don't know of any service but it would be a God-send for sure. Marketing is NOT for forte but I keep learning.
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Tara Fairfield
2013-12-30
I can always count on you for great advice. Thanks, wise words.
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